Record-breaking number of learner drivers in wake of lockdown

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th August 2020, 2:12 pm

Driving schools have seen record numbers of new drivers seeking lessons since lockdown ended.

Enquiries have doubled at some major schools since lessons restarted in England as people look to catch up on lost learning time or seek a driving licence as an alternative to using public transport.

Driving lessons were halted in March due to the coronavirus outbreak and only started to resume in some parts of the UK in early July. Learners in England and Northern Ireland were allowed back behind the wheel from July 6, a day instructors have christened Manic Monday due to the surge in interest.

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Bill Plant Driving School reported a 231 per cent increase on the number of enquiries compared with the same day last year and a remarkable 2000 per cent increase compared with March.

Driving schools were forced to halt lessons in March (Photo: Shutterstock)

Overall, the driving school saw a 122 per cent increase in enquiries compared with July 2019, a rise echoed by RED Driving School, which has seen interest from learners double since lessons restarted in England.

Industry recovering

Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, said that July was the company’s busiest month in its 15-year history as thousands of people rushed to secure lessons.

He commented: “We’ve been absolutely blown away by how the industry has been able to get back on its feet after many months of being closed down due to the current pandemic.

“We had thousands of driving instructors without an income and many more UK residents who wanted to learn to drive or had to put their lessons and tests on hold until lockdown restrictions were eased.

“Everyone at Bill Plant Driving School is glad to be back at work, providing a service that many will take through life with them, and we’re glad that we have been able to help so many get their driving lessons underway. ”

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, said the business had received more than 37,000 enquiries since the start of July - a record high.

He added: “As the UK’s largest driving school, we’re pleased the majority of our instructors have now opted to return to work and that we are able to handle such a dramatic increase in demand. We’ve taken precautions to make lessons as safe as possible and are eagerly awaiting the restart of driving lessons in Scotland.”

All driving schools are having to adhere to new guidelines to protect staff and students from the transmission of coronavirus and test centres have also implemented new social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Driving lessons resumed in England and Northern Ireland on July 6, and on July 27 in Wales. Learners in Scotland will have to wait until August 24 for lessons to restart.